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In the following article and interactive feature, explore the Documentary Hypothesis through the story of Noah and the flood.[Editor's Note: Today, the consensus among many biblical scholars is that there are four main sources (known as J, E, P, and D).It is grouped here in seven categories, which form the seven main arguments for the hypothesis in my judgment.

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The J text always calls the deity by the proper name "YHWH" (10 times).

The P text uses the word "expired." The J text uses the word "died." In J, it rains for 40 days and nights, and the water recedes for 40 days. P has two of each species of animal, a male and a female.

Initially, it was a tentative division based on simple factors: where the name of God appeared in the texts, similar stories appearing twice in the texts, contradictions of fact between one text and another.

Accounts of this early identifying and refining may be found in many introductions to this subject and in my book Who Wrote the Bible?

Their task was not to prove whether the Bible's words were divinely revealed to the authors. Rather, they were trying to learn the history of those authors: what they wrote, when they wrote, and why they wrote.

The solution that has been the most persuasive for over a century is known as the Documentary Hypothesis.

It is a proper connection of language and views between particular sources and particular prophetic works.

Relationships Among the Sources: To Each Other and to History The sources each have connections to specific circumstances in history.

In P, the whole process adds up to a calendar year. J has 14 (seven pairs) of each species of the pure animals (animals that may be sacrificed) and only two of the animals that are not pure. In J, God is personal and involved: known by a personal name ("YHWH"), personally closing the ark, personally smelling Noah's sacrifice, described as "grieved to his heart." In P, God's name is not yet known ("God," in Hebrew Elohim, is not a name; it is what God is), and there are none of the anthropomorphic descriptions that are found in J.

This is important because J ends the story with Noah making a sacrifice—so he needs more than two of each animal or he would make a species extinct! And the point is not just that these differences are maintained consistently in this particular text.

Scholars in recent years have proposed many variations, arguing for different identifications, different dates, and different pictures of the editing of the parts into the final work.

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